Our colleague Jason from 37signals had a very interesting blog post lately. His post was elegantly summarized in this sentence:
"By building products we want to use, we’re also building products that millions of other small businesses want to use."
Getting a taste of one's own medicine can be an very humbling experience. Granted, not all products can be used by their makers (think industrial products). Nonetheless, both the creators and the sellers of a product would benefit from using their own stuff, if only to understand how easy (or how hard) it is to use it.
In the software business, we often see interfaces that were built by people who never actually use the system. The way the system works is logical, but it simply doesn't make sense from a usability point of view. For example: confirmation pop-ups (are you sure you want to close this window?) are more a nuisance than anything else. Honestly, how often do you actually read the text of those windows? Those things are so annoying we click on OK as fast as we can, to make them go away.
If you are trying to create a truly user-friendly product, you should:
- Enjoy using the product yourself.
- Listen to your user's comments about the interface very closely.
- Pay attention to what new employees have to say about the product: they are not assimilated in the culture yet, and they are looking at the product with fresh eyes.
A lot of traditional marketing will prefer to focus on the market. Who is the market? Is it someone? Is it something? Is it a global entity? Does it have a personality? A market is a vague group of people that have varied ideas, tastes and needs. Who can really say what the market wants? Who can really build a product to fit a market's needs?
What we do at Websystems is build a system that works well for us, listen to our fans and users, and deliver the best product we can make.